Metroid Dread brings a conclusion to the narrative arc of bounty hunter protagonist Samus Aran that began with the original game in 1986, though it brings with it questions about one particular recurring boss character: Kraid. On her investigation into sightings of the X Parasite on the planet ZDR, Samus is forced to confront not only the deadly E.M.M.I. robots and Chozo warriors, but also a fearsome beast returning from the original Metroid and Super Metroid. Metroid Dread features Kraid as a boss once again, even though he was present when Samus destroyed the planet Zebes.
Kraid is a large reptile depicted with three usually red eyes. Though his first appearance puts him at roughly the same height as Samus herself, Kraid is also typically very large. Battles against Kraid tend to consist of Samus standing on a platform while the massive reptile, usually partially obscured by the edges of the screen, hurls an array of projectiles at her. Kraid’s biggest weak point is his mouth, into which Samus needs to fire numerous Rockets or Charge Beams to defeat him.
Kraid has so far made three appearances in the mainline Metroid series – the original (including its Zero Mission remake), Super Metroid, and Metroid Dread. There is concept art for an appearance he was supposed to make in Metroid Prime, but he was cut for the final version of the game. In Metroid and Super Metroid, Kraid is positioned as one of the Space Pirates’ most capable soldiers, implying he’s not a mindless beast, but sapient to a degree. He, alongside Ridley, are the two most capable protectors of Mother Brain in Metroid. Though Samus has defeated Kraid multiple times, he keeps reappearing, with his most recent return in Dread being the most odd.
Kraid is one of only three boss characters in the original Metroid, the other two being Ridley and Mother Brain. In the 1986 release, Kraid did not have his exceptional size, but this was retconned to come in line with his other appearances by Zero Mission. Kraid can be found in Brinstar, one region of Zebes. Though Samus defeated him in combat, his survival following the original Metroid can be attributed to the bounty hunter only destroying Tourian, the region of Zebes which housed Mother Brain.
Chronologically, the Metroid Prime trilogy takes place directly after Metroid, and Kraid was slated to make a return. There’s a chance he may have reappeared with cybernetics, much like Meta Ridley, who appears in Prime and Prime 3. Due to time constraints, Kraid never made it into Metroid Prime, but the game’s Instruction Booklet fills in some narrative points that might help explain his reappearance in Super Metroid. After the destruction of Mother Brain in Metroid, the Space Pirate army split their operations in two, with one group responsible for “rebuilding their ravaged facility and resuscitating Mother Brain, Ridley, and Kraid” on Zebes.
Kraid did not appear in Metroid II, so his first appearance with his now-canon gargantuan size is in Super Metroid. The Space Pirates that remained on Zebes rebuilt their facilities in order to clone the Metroid baby that Samus let survive at the end of Metroid II. Samus returns to Zebes in Super Metroid to finish the job, defeating Kraid, Ridley, and Mother Brain a second time alongside even more bosses. Instead of just destroying Tourian, though, Samus destroys the entire planet Zebes in order to ensure the destruction of the Metroids. This would have seemingly been the end of Kraid, if he had not reappeared on ZDR as one of Metroid Dread‘s enemies, alongside a rogue Chozo.
There are seemingly two possible explanations for Kraid’s appearance in Metroid Dread. One is that he was captured on Zebes just before the planet’s destruction and brought to ZDR, and the other is that it is simply another monster of Kraid’s species. The problem with the first explanation, in which Kraid is taken off of Zebes, is that it complicates the known Metroid timeline and has little concrete evidence to support it. Quiet Robe tells Samus that Raven Beak’s Mawkin tribe was infected with X while Samus was eradicating the Metroids on planet SR388 (during Metroid II), and had to be quarantined in the ruins of ZDR’s Elun location.
Kraid is shown to be restrained in his Dread boss arena by Mawkin warriors in the second Chozo Archives image, unlocked by acquiring every item in Cataris. It’s possible that there were Mawkin on Zebes during the X outbreak, who managed to capture Kraid and bring him to ZDR before Zebes was destroyed. If that’s the case, then it’s odd that Samus never encounters a Mawkin soldier that isn’t infected by X on ZDR (aside from pre-X Raven Beak). This explanation is supported by Dread labeling the boss as Kraid, but it’s largely circumstantial, and in any case, the game does not elaborate on the subject.
It seems much more likely that this boss is another member of Kraid’s species. After Kraid was revealed in one of Metroid Dread‘s trailers, Nintendo ambiguously referred to him as “a giant monster that appears to be Kraid” in Volume 6 of its Metroid Dread Report series. Though the game labeling the boss as Kraid disputes this, there’s precedent for similar creatures in the series. In both Metroid and Super Metroid, a smaller version of Kraid – often referred to as Mini-Kraid or Fake Kraid – can be found outside of his boss room. In Super Metroid, this effectively acted as a ruse, making players think they were going to battle another Samus-sized Kraid like in Metroid, until the reveal that actual Kraid was now much larger.
The existence of Mini-Kraid does not prove that Metroid Dread‘s Kraid is another being, but it does give precedent to other creatures with the same appearance existing in the universe. Because the Chozo Archives depict seemingly non-X Mawkin capturing Kraid, this most recent iteration being a member of the same species meshes much better with the timeline. There’s no reason to believe Kraid is the only gargantuan member of his species, and the Mawkin could have captured one and brought it to ZDR at an unspecified time in the past. Since Samus encounters no Mawkin on Zebes, and only X-infected Mawkin on ZDR (aside from Chozo General Raven Beak), it seems more likely that the original Kraid perished in the destruction of Zebes, and Metroid Dread instead has an entirely different one.